More scathing in his critique of the religious than Camus, Melville describes the role of the military chaplain in Billy Budd, Sailor.

Marvel, the chaplian, sets out to console Billy Budd before his execution.   Melville writes:

“Marvel not that having been made acquainted with the  young sailor’s essential innocence the worthy man lifted not a finger to avert the doom of such a martyr to martial discipline.  So to do would not only have been as idle as invoking the desert, but would also have been as audacious transgression of the bounds of his function, one as exactly prescribed to him by military law as that of the boatswain or any other naval officer.  Bluntly put, a chaplain is a minister of the Prince of Peace serving in the host of the God of War – Mars. As such, he is as incongruous as a musket would be on the altar at Christmas.  Why, then, is he there?  Because he indirectly subserves the purpose attested by the cannon; because he too lends the sanction of the religion of the meek to that which practically is the abrogation of everything but brute Force” (italics mine).

The military chaplain is completely “incongruous,” serving an altogther different diety and whose sole purpose is to take the meek, or the religious followers thereof, to worship at the altar of brute Force.

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